Wednesday, November 30, 2011

King Leka I of the Albanians (1939-2011)

Crown Prince Leka of Albania, only son and heir of King Zog (1895-1961), died at 72 of a heart attack in Tirana. Leka, born shortly before the Italian Fascist invasion exiled him and his parents, and proclaimed "King of the Albanians" in exile after his father's death, led a colourful life that included two unsuccessful attempts to regain the throne after the fall of Communism. While his militant methods were somewhat unorthodox, I admire the fact that "King" Leka actually tried, unlike some heirs to defunct thrones who seem content to accept republicanism as permanent. His titular reign lasted fifty years and therefore would have been among the longest in European history.

I am sorry to learn of the de jure king's death, but even sorrier that as with all the Balkan countries the collapse of Communism has not been followed by a royal restoration. It's encouraging, however, that Albania's prime minister now admits that the 1997 referendum "cannot be considered a closed issue." Leka is succeeded as head of the Royal House of Albania by his only son Leka (II), now an orphan at 29 since his mother (the former Susan Cullen-Ward) died in 2004. Rest in Peace, Your Majesty.

Readers wishing to send condolences can do so at this address:
HRH Prince Leka II,
Royal Court of Albania,
Oborri Mbreteror Shqiptar,
PO Box 8170,
Tirana,
Albania.

1 comment:

Daniel William Corston said...

Unfortunately all the news sites using the Associated Press article have the error that King Zog "was this small Balkan country’s first and only post-independence monarch". When of course Prince William of Wied was in fact the first.

It will be interesting to see if his son assumes the title of King.